Véhicule de l'Avant Blindé (VAB)
The Véhicule de l'Avant Blindé (VAB) is the basic vehicle of the regiments of infantry. It is characterized by its simplicity, its great mobility, and its comfort on any ground. It is an armoured vehicle with wheels which can be adapted to various employments, and is characterized by: a good aptitude for displacement in varied ground and NBC environment, an amphibious capacity, a range of 1000 km, and the possibility of transport by airplane. The VAB can transport 10 combatants, and the personnel are protected from the projectiles perforating from 7.62mm rounds to 100 m, and from anti-personnel mines.
The APC has a closed welded steel hull with thin armor. The driver and commander are accommodated in front.The power plant is in the middle part of the hull and behind it is the assault compartment with two hatches inthe rear. There are firing ports in the hull sides forconducting small arms fire. For ground and anti-aircraft self-defence a 7.62mm machine gun is mounted on a circular-shield in the forward right of the vehicle carrying 3000 cartridges. Although the VAB APC is armed with a 7.62-mm or 12.7-mm machinegun, a small-caliber automatic gun can be installed on it. Some 60 vehicles were made in the Mephisto SP ATGM system, (with a basic load of 12 HOT missiles).
This APC uses a six-cylinder diesel engine connectedwith a gearbox through a hydraulic torque converter. Wheel suspension is independent torsion-bar with hydraulic shock absorbers. Water obstacles are negotiated without preliminary preparation. Movement on the water at a speed of 7 km/hr is accomplished using two water jets. In addition to infantry transport, the VAB APC is used for towing the 120-mm mortar and as a command and staff, ambulance, maintenance, and transport vehicle.
The VAB wheeled APC became operational in 1974 as the primary means of transportation of French Army motorized units. It replaced the obsolete AMX-VTT M56 wheeled APC. Deliveries of the original VAB, developed by the French army, were completed in 1976.
A total of over 4,000 VAB APC's have been ordered for the French Army (basically in the two-axle version), of which around 2,800 already had been delivered by 1990, and the army eventually received 3,975 cars in a 4x4 configuration, many of them are still operated in more than 25 variants. Additional export orders for VAB 4x4 and 6x6 cars raised the total number of manufactured cars to more than 5000 pieces in various versions are in service with 15 armies. The VAB has been used in numerous military operations, and has played an important peace-keeping role in several parts of the world. It is undergoing continuous technical upgrade programs.
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